It always saddens me a little, at my own loss of innocence, when someone is so inexperienced with life that they can unequivocally state that they don’t understand why someone would cheat on their spouse. I remember being idealistic and absolutely positive that would not be an option for me. I didn’t think it was an option for anyone else either. In my young mind, I could not conceive of a possibility where that would change.
Then I had kids. I had a child with special needs. Then I was married for 20 yrs. All of a sudden I realized that my choice to leave, to divorce would be the most selfish thing to do. It would ruin the lives of the people I brought into the world and promised to protect at all costs. Even at the risk of my own safety and life if necessary. Staying in an unhappy, unfulfilling, marriage was the least I could do to ensure their well being.
I was not in an abusive marriage. I did not suffer from a spouse who tormented and hurt me physically. He did not drink or do drugs; he had no unbearable vices that necessitated my immediate withdraw for the safety of my kids. Instead I was ignored to the point of my soul becoming vacant. I was sexually abandoned and mentally isolated from lack of adult communication about our marriage and relationship.
Children are not witness to those areas of their parent’s marriage and so all they saw were 2 well functioning adults who consistently met their needs and provided them with a secure platform to grow from. I can not regret giving up my life and happiness in exchange for what my staying gave them. The only thing that saved me, the only thing that enabled me to endure the loneliness of my life, was to have an affair.
It was not a choice I ever thought I would make. It took years of traumas building one on top of the other, that I endured alone, before a single event was the catalyst to my immediate acceptance of having a person in my life, not my spouse, who provided me with the safety and security I needed to recover from and heal from the damage my marriage created.
I could never have imagined that kind of despair and loneliness when I was young and inexperienced. I would never have been able to understand that chronic isolation builds inside of a person until it feels like they can die from it because leaving is not an option. For most parents, it’s not a choice to save yourself at the expense of your kids. You endure. You adjust. You deal with it as best you can. Sometimes the only choice IS between a rock and a hard place.
When you have children, everything you once knew and believed will change. It is not gradual for a mother; it’s almost immediate once they are born. You do not make the decision to cheat when you are neglected by a spouse; you are pushed into it by a partner who puts 2 hands against your back while looking over their own shoulder because they simply do not care to see where you end up, once they lose contact with you as you disappear off the edge of the cliff.
They abdicate responsibility for their actions and do not take responsibility for their part in the failure of the marriage because their needs are being met and they are not vested in yours. You mean as little as piece of living room furniture to them; something that serves a purpose but of which they take no notice of, after the initial purchase and movement to its expected spot in the house. You are forgotten until they go to use you at some distant point in the future, only to be notified you were broken years ago and thrown away
Beyond their faint surprise you are no longer there, they experience no emotion at knowing you are gone. They simply arrange for a replacement to take your place and provide for their basic needs that they want to have met. You are as replaceable as a cog in the functioning of their life because you are nothing more than a tool to them or someone who plays nothing more than a role in the animation of their life.
You have an affair because you can’t stand feeling hollow and unappreciated anymore. You actually have the thought that being dead would be a better option than living as you are and instead of scaring you beyond reason, you actually begin the thought process of how it would work for your children without you in their life. It’s not until you start to heal in an affair, that you see just how far gone you were in respect to your reasoning and ability to cope with normal life, let alone traumatic events.
Affairs happen for so many reasons. Some reasons are more acceptable than others in my mind. Not everyone will understand that unless they’ve been faced with a similar circumstance. For the people who simply can not understand my perspective, I’m actually sadly glad that they have never felt what I have, for I would not wish it on my worst enemy. Their scorn and convictions remind me of how naive I once was; before life showed me how much I had to learn about sacrifice and love. And forgiveness. Forgiving myself has been much harder than forgiving him, for not being who I thought he was.